With all the smart technology options around you with remote accessibility, scheduling, mesh connectivity, do you feel you’re getting a little dumber?
Don’t worry; it can certainly be overwhelming as you are under pressure to make the right long term decision.
One of the factors to consider is to see what saves you money in the long term.
When considering controlling multiple lights with a single switch, the most pocket-friendly solution is to swap out the old switch and install a smart switch. This will allow you to control all connected non-smart bulbs remotely.
Smart Bulb And Smart Switch Compared
You may think that smart switches and smart bulbs are quite interchangeable, and it’s a simple either/or decision.
But this is simply not true. If there’s one technology that needs planning, it is smart lighting. The various factors can affect your overall cost, the level of electrical work required, the future adaptability, and your set up’s current ecosystem.
So when you decide to smarten up your home or home office, you need to know precisely what a smart bulb does for your needs and what a smart switch can do.
Here’s a quick look at some of the pros and cons of both.
|Smart Bulb Pros||Smart Bulb Cons|
|Cheaper to start your smart home, starting at $10 for a smart bulb. Adding 2-5 bulbs is also affordable.||As you add more than 5 bulbs, it will be an expensive hobby to sustain as the costs build up.|
|Setting up a smart bulb is as easy as 1-2-3. Unscrew old bulb. Screw the new bulb. Have some tea.||Smart bulbs only come in limited sizes and bases, the A19 or the candle shape.|
|Option to have RGB colors and changeable white color temperature from cool to warm light||Cannot be used with existing dimmer switches, and bulb may flicker or not reach 100% brightness|
|Can come with extra features like motion-detection, Bluetooth connectivity, etc||The wall switch always needs to be ON for the bulb to have stand-by power and receive commands remotely|
Here is a small table of smart switch benefits.
|Smart Switch Pros||Smart Switch Cons|
|Non-smart bulbs can be remotely controlled by smart switches, saving you a recurring cost of bulbs.||Smart switch requires hands on electrical installation. i.e disconnect the old and rewire the new switch into the wall|
|You can control a number of bulbs and multiple fixtures that are connected to a single switch.||Initial start up costs are slightly higher for a smart switch and labour costs for rewiring|
|Greater flexibility in choosing your preferred bulb shape and size specific to your fixture||No RGB or changeable white color temperature option through the switch. Won’t dim without a dimmable bulb.|
|Cheaper to scale up for a much bigger place as multiple lights become smart with 1 switch||Some switches require a neutral wire and older homes may not have it|
Can You Control Multiple Bulbs Through One Smart Switch?
If you read the pros and cons table above, you would have read that one smart bulb can remotely control many bulbs, lights, or fixtures with a single command.
To give a practical example, let’s say in the kitchen, you have 4 separate non-smart downlights connected to a wall switch. Well, you can swap out the old switch for a new smart switch.
Now, through your remote app or voice assistant, you can turn the existing lights on and off remotely. This is, of course, if all the 4 downlights are connected to the same switch.
One smart switch is usually connected to a 10-15 ampere circuit. This allows you to connect up to 1800 watts of lights, with 20% room for losses and overhead. That means technically, you can control almost up to 145 LEDs with a single smart switch.
Is Smart Switch Financially More Feasible?
So you might be wondering, with all this functionality, don’t smart switches and bulbs use energy simply by installing them.
Well, in a nutshell, yes. But the cost is so little that it easily balances the monthly running cost of regular bulbs.
Both smart bulbs and smart switches need to be on standby mode to receive commands from the remote app or voice assistant.
If you want your living room lights (connected to one switch) to be remotely accessible, to follow a schedule in sync, and be dimmable remotely, then your best bet is to invest in a smart switch.
It would make no financial sense to purchase multiple smart bulbs used in the same room with the same switch.
One of the things you would need to consider is whether you can make substantial electrical changes to your home.
For example, if you are renting a place, landlords may not allow rewiring. Or, if you plan to upgrade your wiring soon, then getting smart bulbs would be more feasible for now.
Consider also that high vaulted ceilings and hard to reach fixtures may not be your favorite place to install new smart bulbs. While they are the longest-lasting bulbs, LED bulbs do need to be replaced some time.
In that case, going for the more reachable switch, and redoing its wiring if necessary to install a smart switch may be a smarter way to go about it.
Also read: Why Are LED Dimmer Switches So Expensive?
Do Smart Switches Use Electricity When Off?
Smart switches can be smart only if supplied with some power, allowing them to be on standby mode. As soon as you connect your app to it from the next room, your switch wakes up and implements the instruction you gave.
Even when you physically flip the switch off, you will find that it is not cut off from electricity.
This power usage is very negligible and offsets against the incredible convenience you would be getting with lights that can be turned off remotely and be set to schedules to automatically turn on and off.
There’s a world of information out there for every user of smart devices. You need to see what works best for you and your family, and your future needs.
Smart switches can be very budget-friendly when you go about it the right way.
Do you have multiple lights that are connected to a single switch?
Are you restricted in rewiring your wall switches?
Share your concerns with me in the comments below.